Are you planning to attend our next Networking After Hours Event? Here’s some guidance on how to make a good impression and get what you need out of the event. A little preparation can go a long way toward making networking a positive experience.
- Dress professionally for your field
There is no dress code for our events, but many of our participants work in roles or industries that require professional office attire. These attendees often come to our event straight from work in business or business casual clothing. It’s also perfectly fine to come in your uniform or casual dress. However, job-seekers and students would do well to “Dress for the job you want.”
2. Prepare a personal elevator pitch
Can you say who are and what you offer in one or two sentences? Doing this in a way that feels natural and personable takes some practice.
3. Be ready with business cards or other printed materials, but only offer them if people show an interest
Make it easy for people to remember your name and the best way to reach you. This is especially important if you are a job-seeker. As time allows, we often give people the opportunity to stand up and introduce themselves and share a few details about what kinds of opportunities they are looking for with the group. However, it’s ideal to have a business card or resume to follow up with anyone who shows an interest.
Personally, I would suggest keeping these handouts tucked away in your bag until requested. It’s fine to let people know you have them if they are interested, but handing your resume out indiscriminately makes you look inexperienced at networking.
4. Think through your goals for attending, but be open to surprises
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, suggests that introverts might want to set a specific goal to meet just two or three new people at a networking event and have a quality conversation with each person. This is a totally valid way to approach our events.
We will often offer an ice-breaker activity that can help you break out of your familiar social circles to make new connections. And new connections are the point of networking. However, don’t feel like you need to “work the room,” whatever that means! Don’t abandon conversations that you and the other person are still interested in out of pressure to reach more people. Our organized activities are always optional.
It can also be a mistake to be so laser-focused on finding new clients that you abruptly abandon conversations with people who don’t check your boxes. I think we’ve all had the experience at some point that a serendipitous passing comment leads to a genuine connection. Be curious and open to some serendipity.
5. Learn to exit a conversation gracefully and understand when another person is moving on from the conversation
You’ll probably want to wrap up a conversation and move on to a new one at least two or three times during a networking event. Other people may also give you a polite signal that they are ready to move on.
This article on How to Gracefully Exit a Conversation over at Business Insider has some great ideas for initiating tactful transitions. If you’re new to networking events, this list can also help you be aware of what’s happening when someone is ready to wrap up with you and talk to someone else. Some of these ideas will work better for your personality than others, and that’s ok!
Do you have ideas for how to get the most out of Networking After Hours? Leave us a comment below!
We are excited to see you at our next event!
Adrielle Stapleton is the part-time Office Coordinator at Women Leading Kentucky. Are you a professional woman looking for connections and opportunities in Central Kentucky? Women Leading Kentucky is the premiere organization for professional women’s networking in Lexington and the surrounding area. We host events online and in-person that will help you extend your network and reach new business partners and opportunities. Join us at our next event!